Saugus library to unfold story of family and slavery

SAUGUS — The Public Library will be kicking off the new year with a virtual presentation of “An American Quilt: Unfolding a Story of Family and Slavery.”

The virtual event will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m.

After discovering an unfinished 1830s quilt, Dr. Rachel May, an assistant professor at Northern Michigan University, investigated the history of the women who created it and the overlooked history of Northern slavery. May’s book explores the far reach of slavery, from New England to the Caribbean, the role it played in the growth of mercantile America, and the bonds between the agrarian south and the industrial north in the antebellum era.

Reference Librarian Mary O’Connell stated that this program is unique in its education of slavery, as it is more personal than just a telling of facts and dates.

“It personalizes it,” said O’Connell. “It’s talking about the women that made the quilt, unlike in history books where you hear fact, fact, fact. It can hit home.”

This is a free program, but registration is required, and can be found at A link to the Zoom presentation will be sent to participants after registration.

While O’Connell said that the library has had a decent amount of participants in its virtual presentations, the library still recognizes the need for in-person programming.

“We try to have a variety of things and when we have done these things virtually, they are things that we would have done before the pandemic. As far as continuing, I think people probably prefer to be in person.”

No matter the format, O’Connell thinks that programs such as “An American Quilt: Unfolding a Story of Family and Slavery,” is important and helps to bring the community together.

May is also the author of “Quilting with a Modern Slant,” a 2014 Library Journal and Amazon Best Book of the Year.

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